The Remote Communications Checklist: 10 Essential Tips
March 24, 2020
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Your team is now working remotely from home and your organization is dealing with a new set of uncertainties and challenges that are magnified by collective anxiety around the pandemic, school closures, and the economy.
While some companies already have clear remote communication procedures in place, in a time of crisis, this is not always feasible. As a team member or leader, it’s incumbent on you to maintain a steady flow of information and internal team communication so your business can run as usual.
Here at TalkMeUp, we’ve compiled a list of 10 tips that can help your team smoothly transition from in-office communication to a work-from-home environment.
Establish clear communication tools and channels.
While you want to minimize the number of software tools your team uses, do establish some clarity about which technology tools will be used for video conferencing, daily chat, urgent requests, team collaboration, management discussions, and other. As you establish tools also establish which communication channels are appropriate for a given situation; some channels might be devoted to specific projects; others for tasks of the day; some for general company announcements, and others for informal group chats. Establish a cadence for each channel and be clear about what work can be done out of sync and what requires real-time team collaboration.
Create a central hub of information.
Transitioning to remote work might be confusing as new tools, standards, and procedures are established. If possible, keep a central record of information that’s accessible to your entire team. The central hub can include information like general guidelines or resources for remote work; past meeting notes or future meeting dates; links to discussion boards; or even just a list of goals for the week or month. This is especially valuable if you will be remotely onboarding new employees.
Support wellness and keep team morale high.
A Stanford study showed that the number one drawback for remote work was a lack of employee motivation due to loneliness or a feeling of social isolation from colleagues. Keep your team’s mental health in mind if you want them to be productive and well-functioning over the long-term. Besides encouraging them to go out on short walks or take stretch breaks, check in to ask how they are doing, share a meme, or just ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Whatever you do, check in on each other and don’t let your teammates go stir crazy.
Keep video calls productive but casual.
While video meetings should focus on productivity and accountability, it’s important to get your team comfortable with the idea that video calls from home may not be sexy. That may mean taking an ad hoc video call with messy hair or an unkempt living room as the background— for day-to-day team communication, let them know it’s ok. Teams should also allow for normal home interruptions from pets or other family members. Let them know you don’t sweat the small stuff.
Encourage people to overcommunicate.
If you believe your colleagues might benefit from a piece of information, share it. It’s better to over-communicate than under-communicate, especially in the beginning days of work-from-home when the team starts to realize that casual chats and work-related discussions do not happen as organically in a virtual environment.
Let your team know how to reach you.
This is especially true if you are a manager or a leader. Let others on your team know how they can reach you and at what times. Would you rather get biweekly updates from the team? Or every other morning? Perhaps on Friday afternoon? Make sure to clarify expectations so there are fewer misunderstandings and everyone can plan according to their needs.
Make a phone call to quickly resolve urgent matters.
Emails and text messages may go unread and video calls are not always convenient. But an old-fashioned phone call will usually get through. If you have an urgent matter that needs to get taken care of, like dealing with an unhappy customer or hashing out a misunderstood message sent over chat, resolve the issue quickly by making a call.
Have virtual coffee meetings.
Keeping old office habits like morning coffee runs with your colleagues or boss can be a valuable way to maintain companionship and motivation. If you had an established coffee, tea, or lunch routine at work before, try to keep it so you can maintain some momentum and normalcy in your work relationships.
Ask for feedback.
If you and your team are new to remote work, it’s useful to ask for feedback to gauge how the situation is working for everyone. It’s possible some work-related tasks have become easier and others harder. What are they? Identify the good, the bad, and the ugly of the new situation and make necessary adjustments. Most importantly, if you’re a manager, ask your people: “do you have what you need to be successful and if not how can I help you?”. That’ll help you flesh out what’s missing in your team toolbox so you can fix problems you hadn’t considered.
Keep things fun.
Everyone likes to laugh and be entertained, especially in trying times. Inject some fun, humor, and games into your daily work-from-home routine. Send out a funny meme, riddle, brainteaser, or music video. This helps keep a positive energy and sense of companionship.